Friday, December 1, 2023

Black and Grey Wide Bracelet and Earring Variations

I've been working with the color black a lot lately.  Usually I'm super inspired by lots of bright colors and, for no specific reason, black feels very cozy right now.  I do feel like my jewelry stock is lacking in black options and I'm having a tendency to lean toward a black base for my personal style as of late.* It layers with all other colors easily, so, I'm just following my spirit and letting my hands make what they want. 

This is what has come of it. First, a black, gunmetal and grey wide pearl clasp bracelet. In the past I have simply striped the colors with one full row of color at time for this style bracelet. This time I striped the strips every other row by row. I like the busyness of the patterning and I think it turned out stunning. 

Wide St. Petersburg Striped Strips Bracelet

Next is a pair of "huggie" earrings. I really like this style for work, it's simple, clean, a little bit flashy but not dangly. I think I meant to make them a little tighter to the ear but I always end up worrying that it looks too short between the post and the backing so I did an extra row and it made it a little longer and it doesn't "hug" my earlobe. I also have to remind myself that one can't account for where holes are in ear lobes so it may be loose on me but snug on someone else. In any event, I love wearing this style so I made another pair.

Huggie Earrings

Last, I decided to make a new pair of beaded blob earrings. I haven't made any of these in a long time and they're just fun to make and to wear. I hadn't done a pair in this color range, I feel like they always end up having some blue in them so here's a nice change for this style. 

Beaded Blob Earrings

Lets face it, I created this colorway for something new to wear at tonight for Midnight Madness in Ann Arbor. I'll be set up at my friend's meadery, Bløm Meadworks 100 S 4th Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 from 5-11ish. This has been my one pop-up holiday show the past few years and even if I don't sell much I love the vibe, other makers and people that attend this event. A big thanks in advance to my friend Jenn for joining me as it's kind of a long day and it's nice to have company on the drive. 

*Sidenote, Bryan and I were laughing about this a fe days ago because when we first met, he basically only wore black and I barely had any in my wardrobe. I had never seen so many black tee shirts before! Now I'm wearing black a lot more often whereas he's been leaning toward more colorful outfits.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Combining Bangles

Back when I was trying to make lower priced "stuff" to sell I started making "tiny bangles" for $20. Even $20 didn't feel good when I sold them due to the amount of work that I put into these bangles. I had made enough to fill a display and they've been floating around my studio and pop-ups for years now, occasionally 1 or 2 selling. I've gotten really tired of looking at them and they tend to represent the years when I had a desperation to sell something, anything. Now that I'm in a really good place and only make what I feel inspired to make I've been cleaning out my studio and removing anything that I don't like anymore or I'll cut it up to reuse the materials. 

These tiny bangles were initially on the chopping block but I have a hard time cutting up anything I've made, even if it's something I no longer like. I created them to be an option to layer with other bracelets and each other. The issue is that being only 2 or 3 beads wide doesn't allow them to keep a good bangle structure. So they end up a bit floppy and unattractive (in my mind). I'd layer them for a pop of color with other bracelets but now that I barely wear jewelry they just take up space that I'd like to reclaim.

One of my recent studio cleaning days I decided I might be able to put some of them together to make the bigger bangles that I like better. I put the first one together (above) and now I like it! They're actually fun to play with which stripes and solids go well together. It's a fun practice of putting together colors and designs in a direction I wouldn't usually take. 

Creative play has become more important to me than making to sell. I'm seeing more and more artists and makers throwing in the towel because they can't make enough to cover time, supplies, studio, not to mention the amount of work it takes to constantly post on social media, update websites etc. When we have to make to sell instead of play and discover it looses all the fun. I was starting to have days where it was more fun going to work at my day job then hunkering down in the studio. Ok, that still happens too.

This year has started to be a lot more about playing and rediscovering why I love fiber art rather than making any final products. It's more about process, play, design, new techniques and color. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Neutral Green with Fuchsia Leaf Lariat Necklace

I forgot to post about this piece, it's already at the "Made in Michigan" Holiday Show at the Lansing Art Gallery, along with the rest of its matching earrings and bracelets. I decided I hadn't made a leaf lariat necklace in quite some time and I really enjoy this color group so it eventually came to be. I picked away at beading it in the evenings and finished it just before the show's drop off so I completely spaced on posting it to my blog until I ran into the photos. 

See this leaf lariat neckace at:

Reception: This Thurs. Nov. 9, 2023 from 5 - 8 PM

Facebook Event for the Opening Reception:

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Join Me for Weaver Sessions Spotlight for Convergence Wichita 2024


I'll be talking about the 2 seminars that I am leading at the Handweavers Guild of America Convergence Conference 2024 this week and next.  If you have the time to hop on to Zoom for these you can put in questions about these seminars during the Zoom. If you can't make it, you can watch these later on HGA's YouTube Channel.

The first Session Spotlight I am part of is this Thursday, November 9th at 1pm. I'll be talking about "Hands on Finishing your Work" which is an extension of last year's "Finish and Exhibit That Piece!" I decided to propose 3 hours for this seminar because there are a lot of types of finishing and problem solving that can happen with fiber work and I wanted time to address pieces that attendees are stuck on. I had a number of people throughout Convergence 2022 tell me that they heard my class was really informative and helpful. Another instructor told me it was wonderful I was offering this since it was a common question from students of her weaving classes...which isn't part of what she teaches. This version encourages students to bring in their piece or send me photos of works that they are stumped on so we can look at different options and ideas more in-depth.

The Second Session Spotlight I am in is next week, Monday, November 13th. In this one I will be talking about my 90 minute seminar "Keeping Track of Your Digital Art Life." Whether you are a working artist or just trying to keep documents, notes and photos organized this class will be full of the processes I use to digitally file my entire life (which is mostly my artwork).

Saturday, November 4, 2023

5 Years Sober; One Day at a Time

I celebrate 5 years of sobriety today. I had a really good meeting this morning. I've knit 31 pairs of socks among countless other projects to keep my hands busy during meetings. Now, whenever I "accidentally" buy expensive fancy sock yarn I can confidently tell myself that it's a LOT cheaper than drinking. 

5 years ago I was a mess and I didn't see life ever getting better, I was just trying to get by...and doing it very poorly. I recently reconnected with a friend and found myself saying out loud to her "I didn't ever know that it was possible to be this happy."

Of course, something came up yesterday and it reminds me that I still have a lot of work to do to be better than I was. When I hurt others deeply I also hurt myself. I still hold on to too much anger and resentment in some areas of life. And I'm so tired of hurting and being uncomfortable and anxious. On the other hand the general day-to-day stuff in life has gotten so much easier.

So here's to 5 years sober and making it one. more. day. 

A side note on the bandana in the above photos of my very pretty 5 year coin:

This bandana is the first thing I ever recall winning, I was probably about 6. I've mentioned here and there that we showed horses growing up and I don't recall having an affinity for ribbons or trophies but this piece of fabric always reminds me that I was into a nice cotton fabric even at a young age. I'll always be thankful for the grounding nature fabric and the process of making fabric has always had for me. It's a simple thing but I find nice bandanas so useful. Today I'm wearing it as a neckerchief since it's getting chilly at work but not cold enough for a thermal neck gaiter. 

To thine own self be true.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Boatneck Batwing Lace Knit Top

As a casual knitter it's rare that I knit a sample swatch or hand wash... or follow any directions with my handknits. I often just end up making my own patterns up as I go like the last larger sweater I knit. However, the more I hang out with more professional knitters (mainly Sarah Peasley) and follow various knitters on Instagram, the more inclined I am to swatch and do things properly, which I did for this top. 

The open knit made me nervous which is why I actually started by following the swatch directions. I knit during my AA meetings and I was worried it might be too complicated to work on during a meeting. The swatch definitely gave me a feel for the pattern and it wasn't too bad to get in a groove. Like most patterns, once you get the hang of it, it's fairly easy to read your knitting. One direction is a straight knit which also helps keep it simple.

I've been eyeing James N Watts' patterns on Ravelry for a while but the ones I liked the most had sleeves and I don't really wear sleeves unless it's a cardigan or a hoodie. When this new Boatneck Batwing top dropped I checked to make sure I had some yarn in my stash to use and purchased this pattern. 

This yarn is by Anzula Luxury Fibers, Meridian, Lace 55% Tencel, 35% Alpaca, 10% Nylon in the colorway Tesla. It feels deliciously buttery in this knit.

When this was fresh  off the needles it looked too short when I put it on and I thought I would get around to knitting it again with a little more length. Once I hand washed it and hung it to dry it dried to a length that I like much better. I have a fairly long waist so unless it's intentionally a cropped top I prefer longer tops.

I wasn't sure how much I'd like this top in this color, or how much I'd like knitting it. Turns out I couldn't put it down.  It was fun and easy to knit, I have 1 or 2 mistakes that I just wear in the back so I don't have to look at them when I wear it. The color goes with my summer wardrobe and I'm sure I'll be knitting this again in another color....I'm going to wear it more to get the hang of it though. A big me-problem; I get it snagged on everything. I have the same problem trying to wear lace too, but overall, I love this pattern!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

My Secret Little Crop #3; Super-cropped Cotton/Hemp blend

Backtracking to my summer projects...I can't get enough of this crop top pattern by Jessie Maed Designs. "My Little Secret Crop" knits up quickly and I found some stash yarn I wanted to try for a lighter weight garment...I also wanted it shorter to go with overalls. I started and finished this crop top in June and every time I wore it out it got compliments. 

Out at lunch for a date-day:

Waitress:  I love your top
Me: Thanks, I made it.
Waitress: You did? Do you sell them?
Me: No
Waitress: Would you sell them?
Me: No, I just knit for myself, it takes too long to knit to make it worth selling.
Waitress: ...[clearly disappointed tension]
Waitress: Oh, it even has a crisscross back! [walking away]
Me: It's a pattern on Ravelry if you learn to knit...
Bryan: I thought she was going to rip it off you. 

I thought it looked cute with my work pants, 
it was easy to throw on for a totally different look to grab dinner when I got off. 

I have a bunch of small balls of a cotton/hemp blend that I love. I know I used this yarn in red for the red leaf tunic I made years ago, I'm not sure what I have all this green for. Sometimes when I love a yarn I just buy a bunch, which is probably why this has been sitting in my stash. I have been good about not doing that kind of purchasing anymore, I have more yarn than I'll ever be able to use (yet never what I'm looking for so that's when I buy more). Anyway, the green hemp/cotton blend with a pretty Berroco variegated blend turned out really lovely. I wore this top a lot this summer.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Huggie Loop Stripe Earrings

I still bead at night, but it's a bit of a struggle to be inspired to make jewelry anymore since I'm no longer working in clothing retail. When I was in that job, patterns and color changes were abundant and what I wore to work mattered. Now what matters is my measuring, math and product knowledge, which, turns out, is a lot more fun for me. So, my jewelry-making struggles unless I have an event I'm planning an outfit for, such as Abigail's Wedding this past spring (which I created her hair pieces and new jewelry for myself).

In July I ended up planning an outfit to wear to the Sad Summer Festival. It was going to be hot and Jen got pit tickets. So, I had an outfit planned with my black Vans shortalls, closed-toed Chucks, and a loose tee. I had a color theme because I love my yellow 70's-look stripe platform chucks and I have a new yellow 15/0 seed bead I've been dying to use. 

I kept in mind being in the pit while panning these earrings and I didn't want them to dangle much, if at all. The pit usually involves lots of pushing and managing crowd surfers so dangly things can easily get caught and ripped off. I decided to make closed loops integrating the post and earnut as part of the design. The first pair I made I just focused on the colors in the shoes. They weren't quite what I had in mind, so I made a shorter "huggie" style pair with a black base and the yellow that I wanted to use so badly.

I finished and tried on both pairs while I was getting ready to go and really perferred the second pair, both in the short length and color. They worked really well for the outfit, and the pit (although we ended up on the side that didn't have the circle pit or crowd surfers).

I made a third pair while I was playing with some neon green beads I had gotten in Minneapolis last year which have a fun 80's vibe. I like that this style is simple and understated but has the pops up color and allws me to still play with color, plus they're easy to wear to work. These are headed to the Lansing Art Gallery for their Michigan Made Holiday show (Opening Reception is November 9th, 2023)

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

"Is There a Thing to Which Brings Us Less Joy Yet We Devote More Time" the social media piece Final Post

I have blogged about the process of this piece but I'm just getting around to a final post about it.  I finished stitching the edging on this weaving just in time for the "Brave New World; Fiber Art in the 21st Century" Exhibit which went up in the second weekend in September. I really needed that extra push of having it going into a show to finish this before the subject matter became totally obsolete. That's how fast things seem to move on the internet and social media these days. When I began the draft for this weaving TikTok wasn't even on my radar and now it's just as popular (or more?) as Facebook and probably more popular than Twitter (now X?) is.  In 20 more years will these even be a thing? And what will they have morphed into?

I digress. I don't like social media. I'd delete my Facebook if I didn't have to use it for my art business and to keep up with my friends and fellow artist's event here and there. Ultimately I don't scroll through any of my social mediums much because I'd rather be enjoying time at home or doing my artwork. It has it's place, but I've worked to make it a very tiny place in my life for my sanity.  It's not healthy for me to be on it all the time and it's absolutely depressing how it sucks me in and I'll completely loose an hour that I'd rather be doing something I actually enjoy. Such as weaving this piece.

This weaving is called "Is There a Thing to Which Brings Us Less Joy Yet We Devote More Time" which is a quote from Chris Thile when he was hosting a favorite radio show of mine on NPR. He was talking about how he was alone at home and got on Twitter: Is there a thing to which brings us less joy yet we devote more time?  This sentence exactly describes how I feel about going down that social media rabbit hole. I think it was at a time that I had the Facebook app completely removed from my phone. I chose greys and blacks for the base colors because social media tends to make me feel dark and grey.  If you look closely there are threads of color in both warps representing the occasional good that can come from interacting with it. Now that I'm further removed from the making of this piece I'm remembering that I designed the edging with the "connected to Wi-Fi" symbol. During the weaving of this I cursed myself that I couldn't just stop weaving when I felt like I had had enough, I needed to get to the other end with the Wi-Fi edging to finish the piece. I really enjoy that little extra bit that I put into the design that at least I notice even if no one else does. 

The beaded edge took some sampling as I wanted to switch it up from my usual stitch. This bead stitch is a netting pattern instead of my usual St. Petersburg chain stitch. I haven't really had the time to think about whether I like it better than the other, I didn't have it up on my wall long enough to fully process this portion of the final piece before it was off to be hung. Possibly more on that later. 

I have my usual nit-picky things that I need to fix or wish I had done better but ultimately I was really happy how it turned out looking hung in the middle of the Adrian Center of the Arts gallery space. I also plan on never naming a piece with this long of a title again. 

(This photo was in my last post about the Brave New World 
exhibit but I think it s acute one of Bryan and I)

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Brave New world; Fiber Art in the 21st Century with Jenny Schu

This past weekend was the Reception for a very cool fiber exhibit that I was honored to be part of: Brave New World; Fiber Art in the 21st Century at the Adrian Center for the Arts

There were over 100 people through and although it was to be from 2pm-4pm it was already getting busy in the gallery space at 1:50pm.  The day flew by fast and it was nice to meet artists that I've only known through social media or by name but never gotten to talk to before. I'm always so grateful to be part of this amazing fiber community.

Thank you to all who made it out to celebrate with us. This is the first time Uprooted 1, 2 and 3 have shown in the same space outside of my home. 

"Uprooted 1, 2 and 3"

It was also wonderful seeing "She Can't See the Forest Through the Trees" next to her sister piece "Leaf Me Alone" 

"She Can't See the Forest Through The Trees"

"Leaf Me Alone"

I have some tiny details to fix on "Is There a Thing to Which Brings Us Less Joy Yet We Devote More Time" but I love how it turn out hanging in the middle of this space.  Being able to tell how light and drapey my weavings are is important to me if it can be shown off. I finished this one just before I needed to drop it off for the show!

Bryan and I with 
"Is there a Thing to Which Brings Us Less Joy Yet We Devote More Time"

I posted a partial walk-about of the gallery when it finally died down which is kinda fun: 

Going from an amazing vacation at the Supernova International Ska Festival to this Fiber Art Reception has made my heart want to burst wide open with all the love I'm feeling packed into a mere 10 days. Plus Bryan and I just celebrated our first year of being married which felt like it went by really fast. September has been wonderful.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Moving a Macomber Loom; Meet Beatrice

Beatrice all moved in and put together

Well, I wasn't planning on purchasing a new-to-me loom in 2023, but here we are.  Sherri (my now-retired fibers professor) brought up that Anne (another fiber artist who was weaving with me at University of Michigan's Art School way back when) was wanting to sell her 16-harness Macomber loom and I should purchase it. Sherri has brought it up every time we've gotten together over the past year or two. I figured that it would be much more expensive than I was able to afford, but I wanted to be able to tell Sherri I had at least talked to Anne about it. 

Anne wanted to sell it to me at-cost that she paid for it back in 2002, she's taken immaculate care of storing it and it needed a good home. This loom new, with all the extras, bells and whistles she sent along with it would be over 10K and she made me an offer I'd be silly not to take. 

Bryan next to loom as I took it as far apart as possible

Bryan and I went over for a lunch visit and to take a look at the loom, make sure it would (barely) fit in my studio and start planning on how to move it.  No matter how we shifted it, it wasn't going to fit into my Explorer without taking it apart further than I was comfortable with. I took off all the beams, and we packed up what we could to lighten the load for the big moving day. I started thinking of a name for my new loom other than "the Beast" which kept turning into Beatrice in my mind, which is one of my favorite Shakespeare characters. So she was named.

Delilah moved out

I was going to pick it up sooner than later but then the box truck at work was out for repair and I got COVID the week we had planned. The Universe must have know I needed the extra time anyway. In the meantime, about a month and a half, I finished weaving the warp I had going on Delilah, made a rental reservation for the box truck from work, attempted to clean my studio (ha!), moved furniture to make a loom-path through the house. Two nights before the move I bought shoulder harness moving straps and we moved Delilah into the garage...

These shoulder harness straps are amazing. Moving really big heavy things sucks, but this product really made it suck less. For two in-ok-shape 41 year olds we were tired but surprised that it didn't hurt more. We tested the straps before the big moving day with Delilah so I could see what else we might have to move around for the loom-path. Delilah's second back beam is sectional beam which was really the hard part of not taking her beams off, the pointy metal spikes threatened to catch on walls and furniture but we made it out. 

Loom strapped to box truck, 
(we needed to pick up some OSB too, might as well get it while its easy)

For moving truck rental we found it less expensive to rent the box truck from Home Depot because they charge by the hour whereas UHaul charges a flat "daily rate" rate but then has an additional per-mile cost. We were driving to and from Ann Arbor and the mileage was going to be more than double the cost of what Home Depot charges. The box truck was extra large for the loom, but it's the only truck that has a ramp and no way were we lifting this upwards onto a truck bed!

We had to take a break at this point, 
I was getting sore, tired and crabby

Moving  Beatrice in the house was not the same as moving Delilah out. The 16-harness castle plus extra width for this beast of a loom made it juuuust wide enough that it was a struggle to get it through the back 32-inch storm door and then it stuck on the exterior door. I had to take the back door off of the frame (the hinge pins refused to budge for me) and the studio door off the hinges.

Second place we got stuck in the alcove

I was hoping that we would be able to walk her in place in a normal position, but the alcove before the studio was too tight to turn her around. Beatrice is 70 inches wide (longest side) and Delilah was only 48 inches we backed into the dining room, secured more of the moving parts that I was concerned about and lifted her on her side, repositioned the moving straps and shuffled her in. Beatrice just fits in the space with my mess of shelves all around. I can still move around her, but it's much tighter than with Delilah.

Tied up more and on her side

We got her moved in to the studio and I then waited until my next day off to put her all back together. I found that the beams had been in the wrong places, a spring was stretched wrong, some of it was not making sense and, thanks to google, I happened upon a blog that discussed Macomber looms specifically. Macomber Looms and Me turned out to be a help getting Beatrice put back together correctly.

It's taken me a while to adjust to her size, honestly it's been a bit intimidating. I should be working on a new sample for my "anger piece" but the desire to play with some more complex weave structures is really what I want to be doing so I've wound a warp to play with an undulating twill pattern. Undulating twill was the first thing that came to mind of what I could weave with more harnesses, and it was waking me up in the middle of the night with the need to sort out pattern drafts. I'm so excited to be warping something more complex than usual! 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Midwest Weavers Conference Awards & Updates

One of the things I always find interesting is that if I don't provide a photo of some of my work hanging how I intended it, it sometimes gets hung differently.  "She Can't See the Forest Through the Trees" is one that travels best if I group the middle panel of beaded strips together on its hanging rod.  I then spread it out for display.  When I went to see it hung, they were all still grouped in the middle. I didn't mind it too much but I did find myself fixing it on my second visit to the exhibits area. 

"Leaf Me Alone" had the leaf panel hung in the middle of the back woven piece, which I left. I liked having it shown a little differently. 

I was notified after I got home that I won 3 awards: 1st Place and People's Choice for Leaf Me Alone and 3rd place for Neon Gypsy Leaf Bracelet. I'm always very honored to be awarded, and thank you to the conference and attendees for the votes and awards. One of my favorite things about exhibiting is when other conference members meet me and put my name along with the work they saw and their face lights up, "oh! you're Jenny!?" Su wanted to "pick my brain" about my Forest Through the Trees piece (that I still brought for the Leader's Exhibit even though I wasn't teaching). I had a lot of great questions and conversations about my work. So much so that I need to check and make sure I'm not talking too much or boring someone because I do love to talk about my artwork. Once I check myself I'm reminded that I'm among people who also love to do what I do, so really we are all here for a week of full fiber emergence.

Neon gypsy leaf bracelet, with the hands, and the fabric...
(there's a lot going on here, that's all I have to say about how this is displayed.)

The only thing that stings a bit  was "do you teach?" or "I'd love to take a class from you" and then I mention that I had 2 classes for this conference but they were both cancelled due to low enrollment. It's helping me learn that there's a disconnect between my class offerings and people knowing the kind of work I do with the techniques I want to teach. I can't exactly put a leaf panel that took me months or years to finish along side a class description for the Russian Leaf class I teach because most people only finish 2-4 leaves in a 6 hour class. I mentioned this while talking to Sarah and John. John suggested that a lot of instructors put their larger work with their headshot. Either in the background or a photo of the work connected to the headshot. I love this idea, so now I need new headshots. 

I'm behind on blogging...well, I feel like I'm behind on everything. I've been struggling getting back to a regular routine and what I want to work on next vs what I "should" be working on. I'm really inspired and want to play with a create ALL THE THINGS. I recently posted a video on Instragram rattling on about this particular artist's dilemma which I then stuck up on YouTube if you want to check it out:

(I recorded this as we were getting ready to go to a punk-ska show)

I just got back to brushing up on circular warping my inkle loom and tablet weaving.  I've also decided to play with weaving undulating twill now that my new loom is set up and ready to weave on. 

Black and Grey Wide Bracelet and Earring Variations

I've been working with the color black a lot lately.  Usually I'm super inspired by lots of bright colors and, for no specific reaso...